Chennai: About ten transport unions on Thursday announced an indefinite strike following collapse of wage related talks with the state government even as some buses went off the roads in Tamil Nadu. Trade union representatives, who attended the talks with Transport minister M R Vijayabaskar, said no consensus was arrived at over a key demand on a "factor" determining wage structure.
On the other hand, Vijayabaskar said the hike proposed this time was "unprecedented" and urged the workers to resume work in in the interest of the people. He said a majority of the workers were affiliated to the ruling AIADMK backed Union and expressed confidence that bus services will not be affected.
"There will be minor issues but we will address them," he said.
The government's '2.44 factor' will result in an additional expense of Rs 81 crore per month on transport corporations even as a special increment was being given to those who had joined work between 2013 and 2016, he said.
This wage agreement had the highest revision proposed, where the minimum was Rs 2,684 while the highest was Rs 11,361, the minister said. "I hope the employees realise this fact and resume work," he said.
Thirty five unions have accepted the government's proposal, Vijayabaskar said. Trade union leaders, A Soundarrajan (CITU) and M Shanmugam of DMK backed Labour Progressive Federation (LPF), told reporters that the strike was on after "talks collapsed."
"While our plea was for a 2.57 factor (a wage determination technique), the government said it was not acceptable and insisted on a 2.44 factor," Shanmugam said. Further, the unions demanded fixing the minimum basic salary at Rs 19,500 whereas the government wanted it to be Rs 17,700, he added.
Soundarrajan, a senior CPI(M) leader, said the government's proposal was not acceptable to them.
"The strike starts now," he said. The unions were aware of the hardship that people would face following their decision to go on strike, but "we have no other way to tackle the government 's approach," he said.
"We regret that people will suffer... we are ready for talks anytime," the leader said.
About 10 unions had joined the strike and these comprise about 95 percent of the 1.4 lakh odd workforce of the state transport corporations, he claimed when asked how many employees will join the stir.
Thursday's talks also centred on pending arrears amounting to about Rs 7,000 crore, the leaders added. The strike announcement took commuters by surprise as a section of the employees had stopped plying buses in the evening even before the official announcement from the unions came. With some buses remaining off the roads, people opted for alternative modes of transport such as train, autorickshaws and private transport in various parts of the state.
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Updated Date: Jan 05, 2018 11:18:46 IST